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Iron Maiden Embroiled in Songwriting Credit Dispute

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A long-simmering battle over the songwriting credits for Iron Maiden‘s “Hallowed Be Thy Name” has apparently led to the longtime favorite being dropped from the band’s set list during the current leg of their ongoing Book of Souls tour.

The somewhat complicated saga started unfolding in public via a May 6 Metal Talk report, which followed public court filings to trace the dispute back to “Life’s Shadow,” a song recorded by the band Beckett in 1974 — and portions of which later surfaced in “Hallowed Be Thy Name” on Maiden’s 1982 LP The Number of the Beast, and were also incorporated into “The Nomad,” from 2000’s Brave New World.

The co-writers listed for “Life’s Shadow,” Bob Barton and Brian Quinn, weren’t credited for either Maiden recording, but according to Quinn, Barton entered into a secret agreement with the band several years ago and cut Quinn out of the profits — leading to the pending lawsuit that inspired Maiden’s mid-tour set list change. While portraying the dispute as a potentially spurious claim between third parties, band management has acknowledged the disagreement’s effects on the tour.

Steve Harris was a fan of Beckett and some six lines from ‘Life’s Shadow’ were referenced in Steve’s song, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name,'” Iron Maiden said via an official statement. “As far as Steve is concerned, this matter was settled some years ago by agreement with Robert Barton. Any evidence presented … will be looked at very closely and a defense at court will be submitted in due course.”

Here’s the full statement from the band’s management:

Phantom Management are aware of the action brought by Barry McKay (initially by Barry McKay and Brian Quinn) against Steve Harris and Dave Murray.

The dispute concerns the song “Life’s Shadow,” a song originally written in the early 1970s, credited to Robert Barton and Brian Ingham, and recorded by the band Beckett. Steve Harris was a fan of Beckett and some six lines from “Life’s Shadow” were referenced in Steve’s song, “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” which was recorded by Iron Maiden and appeared on the album The Number of the Beast which was released in 1982.

As far as Steve is concerned, this matter was settled some years ago by agreement with Robert Barton, but there now appears to be a dispute between the two original writers as to their respective shares in “Life’s Shadow.” Further, an individual called Barry McKay in taking this action now claims to publish Robert Barton’s interest in “Life’s Shadow,” despite so far being unable to come up with a publishing agreement and showing little or no evidence in his claim of any interest in Mr. Barton’s songs in approximately 40 years. Mr. McKay also states that he entered into a publishing agreement with Brian Quinn (aka Ingham) on 29 March 2017, two days before the claim was served.

Mr. Barton maintains he was the writer of the lyrics of “Life’s Shadow” and recently said: “I wrote the lyrics of ‘Life’s Shadow’ and am happy with how Iron Maiden have, and are, dealing with this matter.”

Any evidence presented by Mr. McKay will be looked at very closely and a defense at court will be submitted in due course.

While the connection between “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “Life’s Shadow” isn’t really news to the Maiden faithful, it does seem like Quinn’s ready to fight for his place in the band’s legacy (and presumably the attendant royalties). His representative, Barry McKay, alleges that Barton not only entered into his deal with Iron Maiden underhandedly, he did so under false pretense; in fact, it’s Quinn’s contention that Barton’s contributions amounted to a handful of lyrical lines and cosmetic changes made well after the fact.

“The legal papers correctly claim that it was Brian Quinn who originally composed ‘Life’s Shadow’ music and lyrics. The legal papers state that all Barton later did was add three lines to the end of Brian Quinn’s finished song some three years on, when Barton wanted to record the track for his new band’s first and only LP,” writes McKay in a rebuttal. “If Steve Harris and Dave Murray think they have settled the claim for taking lyrics and music from ‘Life’s Shadow’ by having secretly paid off Robert Barton, they are sadly mistaken. They may as well have paid off Mickey Mouse.”

As strident as that might sound, McKay has stressed that he isn’t looking for a knock-down, drag-out legal battle — he just wants to secure his client what he’s rightly owed. “There was no need for Iron Maiden to withdraw the song from their set,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “But if they wish to do the right thing, they are welcome to contact either myself or my lawyers and reach a simple agreement to perform ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name.'”

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